Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn R.I.P.

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn died on Sunday after years of declining health. His bestselling books - The First Circle, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Cancer Ward, Gulag Archipelago - drew the world's attention to the brutal oppression being suffered by millions of people in the Soviet Union and made him a household name. He has claims to being one of the most significant figures (alongside John Paul II) in the fall of Soviet Communism and will be remembered as an unfaltering witness for the truth.

He was not only the Soviet regime's harshest critic. He was not afraid to challenge western corruption, materialism and atheism, as in the devastating analysis of western spiritual and moral disintegration he gave at Harvard in 1978, for which many westerners never forgave him. He returned to his native land in 1994 and lived out the remaining years of his life in relative obscurity, a prophet unwelcome in his own country.

Of all the many insightful and compelling words Solzhenistyn wrote and said during his distinguished career, a comment from his Nobel lecture strikes a particularly strong chord:

Let the lie come into the world, even dominate the world, but not through me.